Media should not singlehandedly determine beauty standards, ignore diversity

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Changing the Face of Beauty is a nonprofit organization working toward “equal representation of people with disabilities in advertising and media worldwide.”  The goal, says Changing the Face of Beauty founder Katie Driscoll, is not to ‘celebrate differences,’ but to recognize people with disabilities as members of the same human family, and offer them equal representation in global media.  To that end, Changing the Face of Beauty partners with private and commercial retailers to work toward inclusion for individuals with disabilities.  By partnering with retailers, Changing the Face of Beauty is able to leave a fingerprint on the advertising industry and help to educate the community at large about the importance of inclusion.

Driscoll and Changing the Face of Beauty were featured on the TODAY show earlier this year.  Driscoll told TODAY that her goal is to show that kids with disability are “just kids.”  “Really, it’s how we live in the world,” she said.  “We all go to school together, we all live together, so why shouldn’t advertising reflect that?”  Driscoll wants kids to be kids, “just the way they are.”

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In recent years we are finally beginning to see individuals with conditions like Down syndrome participate more fully in the fields of modeling, acting, and mainstream career pursuits.  But there is still much work to be done to include people with disabilities in many areas of life where they are invited to coexist normally with their peers.  This inclusion will foster the view of individuals with disabilities as equal, normal members of the human family who should not be separated because they have different abilities than others.

Driscoll’s daughter, Grace, was born in with Down syndrome.  Driscoll believes that her daughter and all people with disabilities are negatively impacted by a lack of public exposure, largely the fault of a biased media which choose not to reflect the diversity of the world in their content.  We have to be immersed in the realities of diversity, Driscoll says, in order to see disability as normal, and to understand the specific strengths and gifts of every individual.

A desire for Grace to be treated as a normal member of society – not just as a person with a disability – is what inspires Grace to see Changing the Face of Beauty through to success.  The group has successfully partnered with schools, companies, and agencies to promote inclusion in the media.  At Texas Right to Life, we celebrate and applaud these heartfelt efforts to shine a light on the dignity and value of all lives.

Learn more about Changing the Face of Beauty on their website or on Facebook.

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